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£23k self-funding limit and the cost of funerals..... - Carers UK Forum

£23k self-funding limit and the cost of funerals.....

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Hi, my MIL with deep dementia is still going strong physically - but her funds are heading west incredibly fast. Within a couple of years MAX she will be 'on the council' for funding at her care home.

I know the LAs ....understandably ....go through their finances with a toothcomb, in respect of the £23k threshold, but what happens about funeral expenses?

I have control over (most of) MIL's finances (bar some unknown amount, a few thousand max I think, 'marooned' in a 'lost' account that never got transferred to the joint account from which I pay her care home fees), and what I want to do is set aside the £3-5k that her funeral will cost, BEFORE she hits that £23k funding threshold.

Put bluntly, I'm dammed if my BIL and son will have her funeral costs to pay out of the paltry amount from her estate they'll be entitled to keep!

BUT, I don't want to buy a 'funeral plan' (which would 'remove' the money from her bank account so it isn't even there) as they seem to be ripoffs (eg, Money Guardian warns they are almost a total scam), I just want to bank the funeral cost money 'separately'.

I do NOT want the local council saying it has to come out of the £23k!

Has anyone faced this problem?

It seems to me that it's bad enough that funerals cost that ridiculous amount of money in the first place, and it's bad enough that poor old MIL seems determined to 'die broke' (!) (because I bet she will!), but I'm just SO cross at the thought of my son/BIL having to add insult to injury by having to fork out to pay for her funeral!!!!!!

(Sorry if that sounds a bit unkind - poor old MIL is hardly in charge of her own longevity. It's just that I got another bank statement this week and the amount she's burned through since moving into the care home is just terrifying. Terrifying.)
Hi Jenny
I think it's a bit of a sticky one as councils seem to be pretty hot on deprivation of assets, but MIL has been selffunding so long maybe they wouldn't check back,, long shot.
Whilst I understand your predicament, could you not spin it round to being grateful she had so much saved and capital that she's been able to have best possible so as long as she has, and to acknowledge that the £23 k is intended for just such purposes?

My only other thought that if you were deputy under COP you would still be able to make reasonable gifts e.g. Xmas and birthdays as she did before and you could gift those to someone who would hold it for funeral expenses. She's way outside the Cgt limit but you might still need to make it a true gift (or series of gifts) without reservation.

Only thoughts, not qualified adviser lol
Yes, I'm afraid I too can see the LA squeezing the last damn bit of 'juice' from her shrivelled assets.....

I'm afraid I can't be as 'sanguine' as you on her continuing existence and its effect on her money! I know it's her money - or, to be precise, her late husband's money! (not that, in her generation of women, she had much opportunity to have a career - she used to be a policewoman, and always told me that the day she announced her engagement she had to hand in her resignation - the idea of a 'working wife' was just seen as 'impossible'), but it's the sheer WASTE of it that appals me.

With hindsight, I'd have encouraged her to blow it on round-the-world cruises and designer clothes! At least SHE'D have got some pleasure from it!

She gets 'pleasure' from nothing now, it's impossible. Her life has been a misery for her since the day I 'put her in a care home'.....she hated it, hated having to be there, hated everything about her life. Her only enjoyment was me taking her out for visits and drives and so on.

THAT'S why I SO resent her spending a hundred pounds a day!!!! She would, honestly, probably have been 'happier' drugged up to the eyeballs on 'happy pills' (or even heroin, if it comes to it!)

This vile illness of dementia has taken EVERYTHING from her - her money, her capacity for enjoyment, the last few years of her life....

The ONLY blessing it is conferring is that (apart from circulating her money through the West Country economy way of the care home fees paying nursing staff etc etc!) is that it is removing the fear of death from her......at least she won't be afraid to die, as she won't even know it is happening.....

Sorry, gone off on a bit of a tangent, but I just am APPALLED that she has blown the ENTIRE value of her flat on care she didn't want in the first place!
In practical terms, it may be that I'll just have to buy a 'pre-paid' funeral package for her. From what I've read the problem is even if you buy them from a business that is unlikely to go bust (!), what you 'buy' is NOT necessary what you GET in return.

It's not like a 'gift voucher' whereby you simply 'buy in advance' say 'five thousand pounds worth of funeral goodies'. From what I've read in the press you buy some kind of stupid 'insurance' and the business takes a whopping chunk as 'admin costs'. So, if say, I buy one for £5000, they'll keep £1000 of that and you only get a £4000-funeral.....

Apparently, the whole business of prepaid funerals is ENTIRELY unregulated by the FCA, so all these ripoffs and scams abound.

I'll probably look at the Coop first - they are 'supposed' to be ethical!

Even then I expect the LA will still try and make her heirs repay it.....

(I was also reading in the press that apparently you DON'T have to use a funeral director at all. You can buy a coffin online, and take it to the hospital mortuary, and then take it to the crem yourself! I night explore that option - though poor MIL would be outraged by such cheapskate goings on!)(It's not that I want to give her a 'rubbish funeral'! It's just that I don't want the money coming out of the tiny amount she's allowed to pass on to her son/grandson!)
Jenny, a pre-paid plan would probably be best. There's a discussion (it's old, but the principles remain the same) on the Money Saving Expert forum here:
http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/sho ... ?t=1787537

This is the Age Concern intro to deprivation of assets:
https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-ad ... of-assets/

with more info here:
https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/a ... re_fcs.pdf

That states that the deciding factor is whether the sole or primary motivation for buying something is to cheat the Council. The examples given in the pdf document section 7 (see under case studies) are interesting. In addition this article (only a year old)
https://www.over50choices.co.uk/communi ... -of-assets
suggests that funeral care plans are the sort of thing that is exempted from the means test and any accusation of deprivation of assets.
Thank you so much! Very helpful, and I'll follow through those links.

It seems to me that it is 'reasonable' to regard funeral expenses as an 'inevitable' cost that cannot be avoided (reduced or minimised, yes, but at some point unless one is a penniless pauper, presumably SOME of your remaining estate has to go on burying you!) (Hmm, thinks - maybe society can move to a 'business model' for disposing of corpses - maybe each of us could 'pre-sell' our body, full of useful nutrients and soil fertiliser, to an 'organic agribusiness' company, who would then undertake to mulch us down for fertiliser! Or, perhaps less prosaically and more 'sensitively' we could pre-sell our bodies to a forestry company, who would then plant us in woodland and grow a nice tree out of us, to be used for timber for useful furniture etc. Would we mind so much?)(it's a question of seeing a corpse as an asset, not a problem) (and maximising nutrient recycling) (that said, the ONE thing I would NEVER want is that ghastly, ghoulish thing they've come up with now of dissolving our bodies in alkali - now that IS stomach churning! I'd father rather have a garden or forest grow out of me thank you!) (or be turned into good potash to dig in round my favourite trees and shrubs.)

Legally, IF a council can claim that funeral expenses ARE deprivation of assets, then I wonder if, after death, the heirs could simply refuse to use ANY of the money they do inherit, on paying for a funeral at all! Then the council would have to go into 'pauper funeral' mode? I wonder whether heirs have any legal duty to use their inheritance for burying the person who left them the money?? I do know that funeral expenses can be deducted against inheritance tax. My solicitor told me of one client who ordered that he have a VERY lavish funeral, and that ALL his globally scattered family in Australian and America should attend, and they ALL should wear brand new and designer label funeral clothes, and he wanted a very lavish wake at a five star hotel, etc etc - it was all tax deductible, and his family got a damn good time out of it before the taxman got his claws in!
"One of the few allowable items of expenditure when it comes to deprivation of assets is a prepaid funeral plan which typically costs between £3,000 to £4,000. (I guess with death being the only certainty in life and a price we all have to pay, it’s something the local authority couldn’t really argue against)."

That's encouraging! From the link to over 50, cited above, Many thanks.

I think I'll try and get written confirmation from my MIL's council so I can challenge them if they challenge me!

By the way, sorry everyone if my 'flippancy' is upsetting - it certainly isn't designed to be. I guess I've been to too many funerals not to see death as 'ordinary' really (even if desperately tragic in the case of the three funerals I've been to of those who've died, far, far too young). From an 'ecological' point of view, the 'Cycle of Life' is so vital to regeneration, and if you think about it, giving our mortal remains back to Nature is our 'final gift' to Planet Earth......

(Some of my husband's ashes are feeding his favourite Acer, and I love to see it in full leaf, and know that, in his own way, he's still here in our garden....)
Dear Jenny, On the subject of funeral costs, when my Father died last year we were able to have a direct to crematorium (called something like that anyway) which meant not having Funeral Directors as such. Only Dad's body was collected from hospital by Funeral Directors and he had quite adequate coffin, but funeral directors not involved as no hearse needed for mourners as body went straight to crematorium & mourners met there. Cost was £2,000 and we paid lay minister about £150 to do the service. It was fine and nearly half price. We wanted to leave my Mum with some money. I think it was a good compromise.
Linda, that's really useful, thank you! Very encouraging. I shall definitely check that out. I'd not heard of it before.

What I want most for MIL is a good 'service' not expensive trappings. That said, it really isn't my personal call, as I'm not next of kin. I must consult my BIL and son. But I don't want them feeling 'morally blackmailed' to 'not skimp' on the funeral.
Hi Jenny
My FIL had a prepaid funeral when he passed some 12 years ago. He'd bought it 15 years before that and got quite gleeful when he realised present day costs had passed what he paid. We were concerned it wouldn't cover when it came to it but it did, even though he had moved 150 miles from the original undertaker. It was honoured through some kind of mutual scheme.
Things may well have changed since so do be careful and double check everything.

Think you are on to a some good ideas though. Keep us posted